Monday, April 25, 2011

Monkey See Monkey Do?

Being a parent is hard.

I feel a little brave saying that, too, because it seems like--in the church, especially--it's tradition to call it something else. We say parenting is a challenge. Or it's "a little rough sometimes" or just that it takes a lot of work. It seems like I've encountered lots of euphemisms. But it's true, isn't it? I'm not one to dwell on the negative--never have been--so I can see how these "euphemisms" are ways to think healthy, be positive, and rise up champion. Still...parenting is hard.
I'm feeling a bit ground down by it lately. Maybe that's the wrong way to say it. But I'm at a point where it's hard to see how well I'm doing.
I suspect I'm being a good mommy, but sometimes that's not quite enough encouragement!

When Ender poops his pants, he seems completely oblivious to every approach I take in trying to help him understand why he needs to poop in the toilet. Today he had a little victory and pooped in the toilet--we celebrated, we praised and congratulated. It was very exciting. And then he pooped in his pants. And his attitude was exactly the same about it all.

Lately, Ender has become a picky eater. I try to see the ways this is normal, since I know there are lots of picky eaters among children. Kids often like plain food, and they often narrow it down to an exclusive list of what plain foods they like. But I've had a hard time putting any meals together with this pregnancy. I don't blame it all on the pregnancy, it's always taken a little more work and effort for me to do what most mothers seem to do naturally when it comes to mealtimes. So when Ender's hungry, I feel guilty somehow, and then I have the problem of figuring out how to feed him a meal that he'll actually eat so he doesn't starve.
I'm all about encouraging him to just eat what's put in front of him...but if he doesn't think he'll like it, he won't touch it. He'll sit at the table forever and never once touch the food.
I'm kind of worried that it has become a control issue, even though I've always been wary of that and done everything I can think of to avoid that problem.

I was a slow eater as a kid, and I'm still comparatively slow. I was never aware of it bothering my mother. I remember being the last at the table pretty much every meal. But I was eating...and I knew my mother's gentle rule of at least trying a bite of whatever "weird" foods were part of the meal. The only way it ever became a problem was that sometimes I felt rushed in our lunch period at school, and eating fast is simply less enjoyable to me.
Ender is a slow eater. Especially when it comes to lunch time. He knows nap time comes afterwards, so he's in no rush to begin with. And he's sometimes sleepy already, so he slows down even more. I've thought about ways to flip the schedule, but he really does take a better nap when his tummy's full, and the nap is more likely to happen after lunch than before (and if it's later in the day, he won't go to bed on time, so that's not an option I like to take).

Things have been like this for something like a year, probably. I've mostly just dealt with it, in various ways. But lately Ender has a geared up temper, and it hurts my feelings when my "fruitless" efforts are met with yelling or something. I'm so sad to see Ender get angry. I feel like it's my fault, even though I know I try so very hard to not be the example for anger. I make a valiant effort in controlling my own voice, and even if I have to restrain him firmly, I'm ever diligent in making sure that I touch him with gentleness. I often tell him to look at me when he gets angry so he can see that my face is calm...and so that hopefully he sees the love in my eyes. Sometimes my voice strains in the effort to keep calm, but honestly, I rarely break! So when Ender yells "LOOK! Look at me!" and then talks back with alarming attitude, I feel almost mocked. I feel hurt. It makes me wonder if the way he's acting is what he sees in me.

And then I feel upset that I'm if the way to better deal with it all would be to remain unaffected. I probably set myself up for that, thinking that my success is based on how much I let his actions bother me or rile me up. That's what parents are often told, right? To remember that your kid's just being a kid, this might be a phase, don't let it get to you, bla bla bla. Am I wrong in actually feeling hurt then? Because I do! Sometimes, parenting is hard, and sometimes, parenting hurts.

Plus...I just have to throw this in...I want so badly for these main problems to be behind us by the time Scarlett's born. Ender shouldn't be having regular outbursts of anger like this, and I hope he'll be at least a little better about eating (and pooping in the toilet). I know I'll have to deal with things like that once in a while, but I guess I mean that I worry about Ender's temper becoming a habitual problem.

My son's not a bad boy. I'm not, for example, embarrassed by him. I know he's an innocent 3-year-old sweetheart, and I know his spirit is an especially tender one. Maybe that's why it hurts when he gets like's just so not normal for him.

I know I'm not alone! Other mothers have faced this! But I've never heard them talk about it...

It's just gotten especially tiring, I suppose. I hope it's not tiring for you to read about. I suppose I just want a little sympathy, since I feel like my efforts have been all but ineffective with getting him to eat well and to close the poop chapter on potty training. Michael and I have had some encouraging discussions, and he's ever loving and supportive in what I do as Ender's mother. I've already cried on his "cellular shoulder" today (while he's at work, on the phone), so I don't mean this as a plea for help outside of his help. It's not like the burden is impossible with only the two of us (and our prayers). Not impossible, but maybe it could be lightened with a little extra help...
Maybe I don't even know exactly why I came to my blog for this. After all, it made me cry again. We all know I don't like crying.


My apologies for getting lengthy on the personals. love to you for reading. Thanks.

I'm going to take advantage of this beautiful thunderstorm and curl up with a book. I have a gloriously enormous stack of books from the library (I doubt I can get through all of them before the due date). It's wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. You're not alone at all! I've been EXACTLY in your boat with my oldest and it was just like you described and SO frustrating. It felt like so much was a battle. The only thing that I can offer is that it DID pass and he grew out of it wonderfully. Motherhood certainly teaches us patience and that seems to really be the only answer sometimes. I know pregnancy also exasperates the situation so feel free to give yourself some leeway. :)


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